Vampire: Dark Ages
Trapped and Outnumbered
January 15, 2013
Hunter stood on the bleak, damp dock looking up at the colossal cargo ship rusting on the Willamette. It matched the one Joe had described to him but that didn’t make it any more inviting. There was no movement, no lighting, nothing that would draw attention to it in any way. The only confirmation Hunter had that he was in the right place was the small group of men standing a couple hundred yards away chatting over a smoke. Hunter recognized several of their faces from previous fights—they were usually the ones standing around outside as lookouts, or occasionally inside placing bets.
He was in the right place for an illegal professional street fight. So why was he feeling uneasy? Pulling out his lighter and a cigarette, Hunter lit it up and took his time smoking it as an excuse to hang around and watch the area. People were slow to arrive, but there was still plenty of time before the fight started. The fact that Hunter continued to recognize faces was reassuring. He even saw Joe show up with a couple of his normal buddies. They followed the others on board and disappeared below decks.
Nothing was out of place. Perhaps the only reason for his unease was the fact that last time he had almost been killed. Lessons learned there. He had told Joe that he wasn’t making or taking any more open challenges. He had also told himself that these fights were only for the money from now on. Next time he needed to let off some steam, he was going to the gym. Then there was what he learned from the fight itself—don’t grapple vampires. If he did those things, his chances of winning another fight against a vampire would be even better—assuming any was foolish enough to challenge him.
Finished with his cigarette, and with no reason not to go inside, Hunter tossed the glowing butt to the pavement, adjusted the backpack he had over one shoulder and stepped out into the open.
The inside of the ship wasn’t any warmer than the below-freezing temperature of the outside. The steel railing of the narrow stairwell felt like ice against Hunter’s hand. The lighting was poor and the only sign of life other than the cloud of his own breath was the trail of human scents leading further and further down into the belly of the dead metal beast. One of the more recent scents was Joe’s.
Eventually, Hunter’s decent brought him to the distant sound of heavy bass drums echoing from an equally distant light source. He followed both and Joe’s trail down a hallway, the scent, light and music all getting closer until he stopped in front of the first of two open doors to lit rooms. The now deafening music was coming from this first one where a large gathering was spread between tables of alcohol, arm wrestling and people taking bets. Further in the back, he could make out what looked like was going to be a ring. Joe’s scent and several others continued on to the second door of an adjacent room.
“Pro fights are the next room over,” a man standing just inside the first room said. “Otherwise, you’ll probably have easy pickin’s with these small-timers.”
Hunter took one more glance around, then proceeded toward the next room. It was quieter in there which Hunter preferred and he could hear Joe’s familiar laugh echo from across the room as Hunter entered and spotted his partner toward the back. There were ten others spread around, a few of which Hunter recognized. Joe spotted Hunter almost immediately and grinned.
“Hey! You made it!” Joe was beaming and Hunter could practically see the dollar bill signs in the large man’s eyes as he looked Hunter up and down. “Man, you sure look better than you did a few days ago,” he said, then leaned in with a quieter voice. “You sure you’re up for this? There may come a day when I want you to throw a fight, but it’s not tonight.”
Hunter was only half-listening to Joe as his eyes scanned more of the room, taking a closer look at the people around him. “Something’s wrong,” Hunter muttered, more to himself than to Joe.
In the very next moment, he heard the door slam closed behind him and latch from the other side. The echo was still reverberating off of the metal walls as Hunter spun to see that four more men had entered. They all stood from their various locations around the room watching him intently.
“What’s goin’ on guys?” Joe asked with a confused frown on his face. He definitely sensed trouble, but not like what Hunter was sensing.
DANGER. Not just any kind of danger—the level of danger that made even Hunter’s palms feel a little sweaty. It was an I’m-trapped-in-this-house-with-an-armed-angry-drunk kind of fear combined with a potent I’m-cornered-in-this-shower-room-by-three-large-inmates kind of danger. It only took him a few seconds to realize why.
Vampires. One, two, three… those three too, and the five in the corner. Hunter didn’t have to turn around to know the three behind him were as well. Fourteen in total. The only human in the room was Joe. Sonofabitch. Hunter could think of a few reasons why fourteen vampires might be needed against a werewolf, none of which were even close to being good. Best case scenario, they were in the mood for some entertainment and intended to fight him one at a time. Whatever hope he might have optimistically wanted to place in that possibility didn’t last long as one of them opened one of two large chests and began passing around heavy, blunt metal objects. Pipes and crowbars mostly, although there were a couple large hammers and a mace too.
“Whoa, guys… someone speak up and tell me what I missed,” Joe quickly said, his hands coming up defensively. He looked to a specific man in the back. “Kyle, I thought we had a good arrangement. Why the maffia gang routine?”
Hunter’s heart was already pounding two times faster than Joe’s. He had pieced together part of what he was in for, and very much doubted that there was any point in trying to talk his way out of it. New best case scenario: they just wanted information and would settle for him giving it to them without a fight. He didn’t have much faith in that possibility either.
“I’m very pleased with the arrangement, Joe,” Kyle replied, his eyes fixed on Hunter, “Now get out of the way or you’re going to get yourself hurt worse than necessary.”
Joe’s confusion and a good deal of concern remained plastered all over his face as he slowly backed up a couple of steps. At first, he had no idea where he was going because even he knew that he had no chance of making it to either of the two doors, but the further away from Hunter he got, the more he realized the attention wasn’t focused on him at all but remained solely on Hunter.
“Sorry, dude…” Joe said, choosing what he believed to be self-preservation as he kept backing away until he was ‘safely’ in a corner. Hunter could hear him punching buttons on his phone, but already knew that no one would have a signal down here. Then there was the muted music blasting from the room next door; no one out there was going to hear anything coming from this room.
It only took a few more seconds for the last of the weapons to be passed out. In that time, Hunter had slipped a hand into his bag and pulled out his katar blades before letting his backpack drop to the ground. He’d also noted that the second chest had yet to be opened and wondered what might be in it.
Gradually, five of the vampires began to circle him and inch closer.
“You know that less than half of you are going to make it out of this,” Hunter stated with an intimidating growl. “Tell me what you want and maybe—”
Before he could finish the sentence, Kyle pulled out a gun and fired a shot directly into Hunter’s chest. Hunter staggered back as the bullet ripped through him. The intense pain was no less than what a human felt, but it quickly began to fade and within moments Hunter found himself standing with what seemed to be a harmless hole in his chest. Well, almost harmless. Hunter pulled his hand away, fingers coated in fresh warm blood.
He barely had time to look up and dodge the first of the five vampires charging him. With skilled practice, he even managed to dodge the second and third, weaving between his assailants with fluid motion. But no amount of skill on his part was going to save him from all five of them. Soon skill became luck and then his luck ran out as the first landed a solid blow to his side. Hunter retaliated with two crushing blows of his own, killing the undead creature as his blades tore through the weaker being.
Things went steadily downhill from there. There were too many to dodge, too many to attack. Even when he managed to severely injure or kill one of them, another would simply take his place. Meanwhile, the blows Hunter was taking began to add up. Gut, arms, ribs, shoulder, thigh, ribs again. He was trying to protect his head, but that only made the rest of his body an easier target.
You can’t win this, Aaron, Hunter thought to himself with no small amount of anxiety. Another much stronger part of him was getting angrier with every painful hit he took and he could feel his Beast growing restless in his rage. Before Hunter could decide whether or not he wanted to simply give in to it, one of the vampires nailed him squarely between the legs.
Any choice Hunter had in the matter was gone when that particular pain shot through his groin causing him to double over. Fur rippled across his body, muscles bulking until his clothing began to tear.
“Oh shit… Carl, I think you really pissed him off,” one vampire said to another. They only stared in wide-eyed fear for a brief moment before they all RAN.
The nine-foot werewolf roared in rage as his transformation finished, the deadly gauru furious and hungry to kill. Knowing better than to stay in a locked room with a raging lupine, the vampires were practically tripping over each other in their desperation to be the first ones out. Fortunately for many of them, there was another easy target in the room but it didn’t save all of them…
Hunter’s senses were a blur for a moment as he came to. He was on his hands and knees, naked, dripping in gore and quite painful. His katar blades were on the other side of the room. Even his bandages had fallen off, leaving the claw wounds on his chest from his previous vampire encounter exposed. Looking around, he saw the decaying corpses of five vampires strewn around the room along with the remnants of a human body scattered in gory pieces. His clothing was in shreds, his backpack thrown against the wall, and bloody gauru tracks paced the length of the floor with large bloody claw marks gouged into the wall and door.
He could hear racing footsteps to his right. “Hurry up, hurry up, he’s regenerating by the second!” a hushed whisper said. Hunter spun and tried to jump up as the vampires rushed him again. Two of them tackled him, a large one pinning down his left arm while the other slammed a crowbar into Hunter’s wounded chest.
“Come on, come on, get it up there!”
A third barely had time to close something around Hunter’s left wrist while he was grabbing the crowbar from the first and rearranging his face with it. As soon as the first was gone, Hunter hit the second hard enough to knock him out and jumped to his feet. Only then did he realize three things: the thing now on his wrist was some kind of manacle attached to a chain, it burned and itched like stinging nettle against his skin, and two other vampires were looping the chain it was attached to through a ring in the ceiling.
Without second thought, Hunter grabbed the chain in an attempt to pull it away from them before they could secure it, but before he could, the mace collided with his stomach. Then something slammed into the back of his leg, causing it to buckle, then something else to the top of his shoulder. Before he could react, a strong yank on the chain jerked him forward, pulling his arm up. He pulled back but it was too late—the other end of the chain was now secured to the far wall.
Hunter stood panting in the middle of the room. He was still naked, still covered in blood, and still surrounded by vampires, only now his left arm was restrained just above eye level leaving him extremely vulnerable. He gave the chain another powerful yank, but it only made his wrist hurt. It was similar to the way his hand hurt after he’d whacked that silver door in the cave, only less intense.
Silver. But how? He tried not to waste his attention on trying to figure out how silver could possibly have ‘supernatural’ properties, but it was no less irritating to his mind than it was itching the hell out of his wrist.
Around him, the surviving seven vampires had regrouped. Many of them were more injured than he was, but the way they were circling him with sadistic smiles on their faces suggested that was about to change. Only seconds later, he heard movement behind him followed immediately by pain erupting in his flank with the powerful swing of a crowbar.
It was only the first of many. They were relentless in their assault, blow after blow stacking injury upon injury faster than Hunter was capable of defending or healing. He tried to dodge or block the ones that he could with his free arm, but he couldn’t take more than half a step to any side and no matter which way he turned, he was still surrounded. Once, he managed to club one over the head with the crowbar he still had clutched in his fist when the bastard got too close. It killed him instantly, but the others quickly learned from the mistake and focused on beating Hunter’s arm until he was forced to drop the crowbar. He quickly realized they weren’t going to stop, not until he was unconscious or dead. And at the rate they were going, it was going to be a while.
He Raged a second time, and a third, only now his Beast was restrained, unable to do anything but growl and roar in fury as it pulled and scratched against the unbreakable chain. Each time Hunter regained awareness in human form, he found himself hanging in the single manacle until he got his feet back under him. And each time his blood-thirsty captors were back on him in seconds, taunting and mocking his helplessness, enjoying their game.
There was only one other who got cocky and made the mistake of getting too close after Hunter had been disarmed. Hunter grabbed him around the neck and willingly allowed his Beast to take over for the first time. Needless to say, the trapped vampire still clutched in his arm would probably have had nightmares for the rest of his life if he hadn’t been ripped to shreds and consumed on the spot. Down to five now, the survivors quickly restrained his second arm after that, cuffing both wrists together above him. It was only a short reprieve, then the beating resumed.
After a while, their blows became more than just would-be bruises. His bones were beginning to fracture, his organs beginning to bleed internally. Intense pain that used to fade into dull aches was no longer fading and Hunter could feel his strength beginning to wane under the torturous assault. More and more often, he ended up hanging limp, unable to do anything but keep his face shielded between his arms as best he could while metal continued to slam into him on all sides. Kyle remained in the back, occasionally amusing himself by popping another bullet into their captive.
Survive. That was all Hunter could set his mind to do. He would endure this torture, he would let his Beast take over when it wanted to… and all the while he wished he was capable of simply falling unconscious like a normal person. In truth, he had already done so several times but it each time his body would heal just enough for him to reawaken within seconds with no memory of having passed out.
He eventually began losing all sense of time, barely aware of anything other than his agony. By the sixth time Hunter reverted to human form from raging, he was barely conscious and in so much pain that it took him several seconds to realize he wasn’t being beaten.
“Careful,” Kyle warned, wielding a length of chain as he joined the other four in circling him yet again. “We have to watch him now… The Prince will have our blood if he dies…”
They want me alive. Hunter wasn’t sure if that was comforting or not. On the one hand, he didn’t want to die. On the other… he had to suppress a shudder at the thought of what these creatures likely wanted him alive for. The idea of being a caged blood donor did not appeal to him.
With great effort, Hunter forced himself back up onto his feet for what would be the last time as Kyle approached him. Coated from bleeding head to toe in what was now his own blood, Hunter’s glare looked all the more feral, his hatred of the creature before him seething from every pore. He very much wanted them all dead, Kyle in particular.
That was when he got a better look at the ‘chain’ Kyle was holding. Hunter’s glare instantly darkened. The vampire wasn’t wielding a length of chain as a weapon, he was holding a metal collar attached to a long length of chain that trailed behind to the second chest. The collar itself was thick, heavy and looked unordinary, but Hunter couldn’t place why just by looking at it.
Noticing Hunter’s focus and expression, Kyle smiled and held up the collar for him to see. “You like it? Supernatural ingenuity at its best. It’ll automatically resize to fit any form so shapeshifting isn’t going to save you. Now, are you going to make it easy on yourself and heel like a good dog?”
Many might have been cowed by such brutality and readily taken submission over further torture. Not Hunter. Of all the beatings Hunter had taken in his life, this one was easily the worst, but only one of hundreds since the first he could remember. Foster parents, foster siblings, bullies at school, gangsters on the streets, cops, correctional officers, fellow inmates… Getting the crap beat out of you was life at its normalcy as far as Hunter was concerned. His reply was short and simple— two single syllable words pronounced very clearly just so there was no confusion.
Unfazed, Kyle gave the others a nod and walked over to release the chain from the wall. A moment later, Hunter felt a crowbar connect with his already broken ribs, followed immediately by the mace to the back of his leg. He hit the floor hard, taking several more blows to several different places. Just for the satisfaction of making them run for cover, Hunter was about to try to induce another rage when a particularly powerful blow to the head caused his first memorable black out.
He was almost literally seeing stars when he opened his eyes, shadows and lights swirling around him. His head was throbbing and bleeding profusely, which prompted him to think he’d only been out for a few seconds. Someone was pinning him down.
“Hurry up, he’s wakin’ up again…”
Hunter felt something metallic being pulled around his neck. Instinctively, fear of being choked had him struggling against the vampire on top of him, but his arms were still cuffed and his body almost broken beyond use. He heard and felt the metallic _clicks_—one around each wrist as the cuffs were tightened and one around his neck. They weren’t tight enough to restrict blood flow or breathing, but definitely tight enough to bite into his skin, and all three of them felt like burning nettle.
He finally managed to clear his vision just enough to see that it was Kyle straddling him. The last thing Hunter remembered was the vampire licking his lips with a cruel smile at the sight of Hunter’s blood running down his face.
“You’re ours now, mutt…”
(Note: this was written before I knew Jacob would be present, slight changes were made in game. Jacob was enthusiastically included to watch the show by the vampires. He remained in the corner of the room until Hunter raged for the first time, and then he ran.)